Baylor, BSM Programs Help Guide International Students

March 9, 1998

People call Baylor a family. However, with growing numbers of international students attending the University, diverse members make up this family. Baptist Student Ministries (BSM) and the international programs office try to help everyone feel at home.

Frank and Libby McAnear direct BSM international student activities. A primary service the McAnears' offer international students is English tutorials. Frank tutors more than 30 students weekly in speaking and writing English.

"Every international student that comes to Baylor has passed an English as a second language test, but they can get cold feet once they get in the classroom," Libby said.

Providing opportunities to build relationships and helping internationals adjust to American culture represents the McAnears' second major effort.

"Our purpose is to get students together and break down barriers," said Libby, who coordinates fellowships, service projects and multi¡cultural religious services. Libby also teaches American cooking to internationals. Though BSM sponsors the programs, the McAnears do not proselytize the students.

"Our ministry to students is a holistic one," she said. "We think about what a student most needs in a given day. We present our faith to them if they show an outward interest."

Libby said their method of sharing their faith encourages international students from non¡Christian as well as Christian backgrounds to come to them for counsel.

"They seem to believe in our prayers even if they are of another faith," Libby said. "They trust us and for that we are thankful."

The McAnears credit their missionary experience for the ability to relate to the foreign students. The McAnears served three years in South Korea with the International Service Corps before coming to Baylor for a one¡year assignment to international students. They have now served more than four years at the University.

The McAnears said the internationals seem to communicate effectively with American students, but often isolate themselves. The Office of International Programs tries to help integrate interested international students through its host families program. Beth Walker, coordinator of the program, matches international students with families within the Waco community to establish relationships with the students. The host families are only responsible for developing a relationship with an international student.

"The program helps international students better understand our culture, and we feel like it's important for people of the community to get to know and understand these students and their culture," Walker said.

Walker also works with local schools that request international students for cultural presentations to local students.

Walker started working in the international programs office on a part¡time basis but has worked her way into a full¡time job. She presently is developing a student¡friend program that will match Baylor's American students with internationals.

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